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To my daughter on the court day
The Dime
We waited in the lobby of the juvenile court center, 9am in the morning on a frigid February day.  The case before ours was another adoption, one of the few happy events that judges and their clerks get to participate in on their jobs.  That case looked to be two parents and their child, maybe 7 or 8 years old, and they left smiling.  I wondered to myself how our journeys had been similar, and how they had been different.  You had been in our arms since you were 10 minutes old.  You wouldn't be able to remember a time before our family, and you wouldn't be able to remember this day - the butterflies in your Daddy's stomach, the shine of tears kept tight in your Papa's eyes, the loving cluster of all four of your grandparents around us.

The judge was a formal man until the gavel was swung (even now, mere hours later, I wonder if he truly did that... details blur so quickly).  Then you could tell how happy he was for us, for the part he could play.  You found his voice mesmerizing, and during the pictures, as we all knew you would, you grabbed onto the offered hammer, and tried to put it in your mouth.  It was just another day for you, just another outing into some strange, wondrous new place to explore.  And when we finally returned home, you and your Papa napped on our bed the same you would have done any other day.

Except now you are a Winters.  Now the eyes of the law recognize you as our child.  The butterflies in Daddy's stomach settled down to rest, and Pape let one tear fall and was unburdened.  You will grow up never knowing a life before we were all together, but Papa and Daddy will remember that strange time when you were our child yet not, and how blessed we were when that strange contradiction was finally laid to rest.


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